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  The Shallow Light
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                 Page Three

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Roy exited the ambulance emergency room entrance doors
before he started stamping some of the dried clods of mud off of
his pants and jacket. Gage, took things a little further. He wandered
out from under the hospital roof's overhang until he was getting
deluged by the rain again.  He even took off his overcoat
and laid it over the hood of the squad to be scoured. Then he
pinwheeled around, taking his helmet off, letting the water soak
his uniform clear through. DeSoto chided him. "What are you

"I'm getting showered off. Geesh. Can't a man get clean using novel
ways without getting the third degree from his partner? Better the mud
gets off into the parking lot than in the squad, don't you agree?"

"The squad doesn't have to listen to you in a couple of days when
you catch a bad cold and piss and moan about every gory symptom."
DeSoto complained.

Gage made a face. "Thinking about your mother in law already?"
he deflected.

"No, I'm not." he lied. Then, "Yes, I am. Seems the kids and Joanne
have natural immunity to her while I don't. Johnny, having her with
us for a whole weekend's gonna be pure h*ll I tell you. She really
gets under my skin.."

"Like this rain's doing?" Johnny joked.

Roy just glared at him, wrapping his turnout a little tighter around
himself even as he hunched down inside of it to keep the cascading
water from running down his back underneath the collar.

"Maybe we'll get real busy and get a big fire or something  that'll
take two days to knock down."

"Fat chance! I know how my luck works. We always get real quiet
at the station when Sylvia's here."

"Sylvia?" Gage laughed, taking off a sock and wringing it out around
one of the squad mirror's posts. "That's your mother in law's
name? No wonder you hate her so much.."

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Roy clamped his mouth tight, controlling his temper as he got
into the squad and slammed the driver's door. The impact made
Gage lose his grip on his rain laundered sock and it flipped off
the mirror rung and down onto the river running asphalt.

Thinking the clear watering concrete made a good washboard,
Johnny took off his other sock and began scrubbing it into the street
with both of his bare feet. "Here, Roy." he said, tapping his now dripping,
but squeaky clean shoes against his window until DeSoto grumpily opened
it and grabbed them from his hands. "Thanks. I'll be done in a minute.
Then we can go grab some take out for dinner."

"What makes you think I feel like eating anything?" demanded Roy.
"I'm a big guy. My digestion takes longer than yours to finish up
a meal."

Right then, DeSoto's stomach growled. Big time. DeSoto froze
in place. Not moving his hands off their irritated grip on the
steering wheel, DeSoto tried not to look away from Johnny's
suspecting eyes. Roy fiercely hoped that his partner couldn't hear
the rumbling sounds that had the potential to betray what his lips
had just said.

"That does." Gage said deadpan, shaking rain water out of his hair
like a dog. "Paramedic hearing's a b*tch, isn't it?"

Roy grunted in sheer exasperation and immediately
rolled up the window, muttering epitaphs that would've curled Dixie's
hair if she had been listening into the conversation just then.

Gage knuckled the glass in a couple of raps, undeterred by the physical
weather or the storm coming from his long time paramedic partner.
"We'll stop by Dave's Dogs again, ok? It's the closest." he grinned in
high amusement. "Last thing I need is you passing out behind the wheel
from acute hunger."

There was no reply from the shadowed figure behind the steaming window.

::Big guys don't need to eat so often my a@%.:: Johnny thought with amusement.
Then he turned to slapping his soggy turnout against a fender rhythmically
to rid it of all of its now water thinning mud.


The sun made a grand appearance just as the still light brown mud
caked and dripping squad squealed up alongside the curb that somebody
had painted in festive colors that complemented Johnny's favorite chili
dog stand.

Roy hadn't even turned off the ignition when the agitated Mac made a hasty
appearance to ward them away from his flaking, pastel painted picnic tables.

"Oh, no. You're not sitting on my seats, guys. Not like that. Not in a million years.
I don't have to accept business from any customer who isn't one hundred
percent publicly presentable. So get away from here before you get
mud all over the place."

Gage smacked Mac against his chest with an expressive hand.
"Oh why not? We're following your sign's instructions to the letter. See? We've
got shoes. And...we've got shirts. So give us some service. We're hungry

And with that, both paramedics firmly sat down at the nearest picnic table
and pulled out a set of laminated menus from behind the ketchup squeeze
bottle and the tiny chrome paper napkin holder.

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Mac wiped the sweat off of his brow around the foldout paper hat he wore
on his head to appease the health department and licked his lips nervously,
as several of his regular businessmen customers started giving the
two filthy firemen looks of consternation and disgust. "I'm fresh out.
I got my eldest boy making a grocery run for more hot dog buns.."

"Fresh out, huh? Then what'didya call those hanging right there off your
roof overhang? Hallucinations?" Gage pointed.

A cluster of still freshly sealed bun bags hanging like cotton candy at
a carnival, swayed in the bright sunlight, glinting a little.

Mac went ballastic. "Listen guys, let me be a little forward here. You're
very bad for business. I mean, you pay good and tip well and all. But you're
still bad for business. The plain clothes cops that normally keep kids from
stealing the pickles outta my dill barrel disappear everytime you show up
because you're so conspicuous and draw too much attention to them while
they're undercover working on my case."

Even Roy had to gape at that fact. "You hired a couple of detectives to
try and bust school aged pick pockets?"

"Well, yeah." said Mac defensively. "Do you know how much it costs to
get a pickle barrel delivered these days?  Eighteen dollars a barrel!"

A businessman that the hotdog stand owner hadn't seen arrive at
the ordering window, bellowed. "Hey, Mac. Are you gonna chew the fat
with those sparkies my whole lunch hour? I want to get my order in before
my hair turns gray!"

A couple of young mothers with babies in strollers, who were going to
stop for some food from the stand changed their mind when they heard
the loud business executive's very audible complaint. They left
quickly with more than a little nervousness.

Mac immediately poured more sweat and his agitation grew by tenfold. "Ah,
sorry, Ben. I'm coming. I'll be right there." Then he spied the departing
moms. "Ladies! Ladies. Do come back. It was just the tiniest of misunderstandings."

But they didn't return.

Mac's anger, barely suppressed, grew and he gasped with barely contained
rage as he made his regular's order as fast as he could make it.

The change from a dollar bill he normally got to keep, was taken away
and Ben stormed off in a huff of affront.

Mac's glower sharpened and he began to breathe even faster.

Gage and Roy, oblivious to the ruckus they were creating, were deep
in their plans for an opulent supper off their menus.

Johnny's hand snapped the air over the top of one of them. "Mac?
Uh, say Mac. Looks like you're through there. Can we order now?
My partner's famished and so am I, finally. Nothing like a good rescue
to build up an appetite."

"What makes you think I'm gonna do anything for--?!" Suddenly,
Mac doubled over the counter, grabbing his chest and he started
panting for air rapidly.

Roy and Johnny's heads shot up at the sound and they dropped
their menus, making a beeline for the small door at the side of
the small stand. "Mac? Are you all right?!" Roy asked loudly
as they hurried over.

Gage went to Mac and held up his shoulders. "Mac? What's the
problem? Is it your chest?" he said, leaning the owner against
the window frame while he felt for a wrist pulse. Johnny saw
that his breathing was very labored. "Now don't fall over
onto the grill here. Roy's coming in to get you and help you
outta there asap. Easy.."


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"I can see that." said Johnny. "Just hold on. Now put your arm
over Roy's shoulder and come out with him. Let him do all the
work. He can hold your weight and then some."

"Ahh, why can't ...I ......breathe?" panicked Mac.

Gage let go of Mac and met them at the tiny door. The two
paramedics sat the pale, sweating hot dog man down
at a basket and garbage strewn picnic table.

Johnny looked up at a transfixed secretary at the same table
who had stopped chewing her lunch at the sight. "Ma'am. Do
me a favor and go to that squad over there. Reach in
for a radio lying on the seat. I need my walkie talkie to get
some fast help for this man. Can you do that?"

"Uh, sure." she said, wiping her mouth free of mustard self
consciously. She slowly rose to go get it, yanking off the napkin
that she had tucked in around her neck.

She clattered away on stiletto heels.

Roy and Johnny both crouched over Mac, loosening his
clothing and apron from around his waist and neck. One
of them took his paper hat off, too.

"Mac,.." asked DeSoto. "Do you have any history of heart
trouble? Are you feeling any kind of chest pain right now?"

"Heart trouble?!" startled Mac, still gasping in huge lungfuls.
"Is that what's wrong with me? Oh, no...*choke* I'm gonna die..."

Gage placed both hands on Mac's shoulders. "Now, Mac. Mac.
Listen to me. We don't know anything yet. That's what
we're trying to learn about by taking a look at ya.
Just take it easy and try to calm down a little. Getting excited's
only gonna make you feel a lot worse when you don't have to."

Mac nodded in resignation, and he began trembling. Especially
when he saw that both paramedics were opening up his shirt in
preparation for an EKG reading.

"Tell us about what kinds of things you're feeling right now."
Gage commanded. "Roy, how about some oxygen?"
he asked softly, thinking about possible symptoms.

"Yep. I'll get the biophone, too, among other things." he
hinted about a defibrillator and the drug box.

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Mac totally missed the interplay. "My... mouth's...all numb.
And.. my fingers and toes are tingling.." he admitted, while
Johnny took his pulse again at the wrist.

Gage looked up in discovery at that. Then he began smiling,
but just to himself, very slightly, and his natural paramedic's guard
completely lowered to the ground. "Feels like you're suffocating, huh?
Like you're not getting enough air?"

"And how. Please. H- Help me. I'll do anyth-- anything you ask.
Just.. don't let me die. I love my life.." pleaded the breathless Mac.
"I'm a real healthy man. I don't smoke. I don't drink. My blood pressure's
always been good. So's my cholesterol according to my family doctor.
I don't even get colds like other folks do." he muttered, panting.
"In fact, I don't remember the last time I had even so much as a sniffle."

Gage took a respiration count, and his smile suddenly got bigger.
But he quickly suppressed it when Mac looked up at him in distress
as he was examined.

Roy returned, setting down their medical equipment just as the
bystander came back with their plastic coated, muddy walkie talkie.
"Thanks. " he told her as he took it from her hand.

The woman retreated, wiping the slimy mud off her hand with
an ample clump of napkins.

Roy crouched down and got out an oxygen mask from the resuscitator.
A clear, plastic one on full flow. He started to string it out from the regulator
to put on Mac's face, when Johnny's hand stopped his from doing it.
DeSoto's face frowned in puzzlement until Johnny starting speaking.
"Mac, I think I know what your problem is. I think you're
suffering from acute hypocapnia syndrome. Roy, do you concur?"
he asked his partner. Then he winked at DeSoto. On the side that
Mac couldn't see. ::Go along with this.:: it said.

Roy blinked. Three times. "Uh,...whaa.. ahhhhh...yeah?" he guessed.
Then he set aside the HT he had snatched up, back onto the table.
Without saying anything, he studied and soon found what Johnny
had found on Mac. But there was one tiny little question still floating
on the tip of his tongue. "Johnny, why are you doing th---?"

Mac was beside himself. "I need oxygen,..guys. Help me!" he begged
in genuine panic.

Gage played their sudden ace to the hilt. "Ok, just relax. And let me
get this on you here. Roy's gonna get a blood pressure off ya."

Johnny turned the flow on the regulator to twenty five liters a minute,
the top aperture, and then he put the mask onto Mac.

Roy's eyes got real big and he bit his lip and he began hiding a smile
when he finally put two and two together about what his crazy partner was
up to.  Narrowing his eyes, he took that BP. But he also put a steadying
grip on Mac for the dizziness he knew was going to strike from an
overabundance of 02 into Mac's system. "I've got.....132/86."

Johnny did, too, on his other side.

It didn't take long. Mac soon swayed in his seat, feeling faint.
"Oh,. This is it.. I'm......dying. Oh, mama. I'm sorry. I wanted to tell
you how much I really love you. But I didn't know I was gonna kick
the big one today..." he mumbled.

Gage leaned into his ear. "Mac. Mac... Can you still hear me?
Is it true you'll do anything if we save your life?"

"Yes... yes! I don't wanna die.. Not yet... I'm sorry if I made you feel
unwelcome. I just wanted to stop losing busin---* gasp!*" And his
eyes got real big in the precursors of a blackout.

"Anything at all?" Gage plugged, holding the oxygen mask and Mac's

"....anything..." whispered the terrified hot dog stand owner.

"How about a whole year's worth of free chili dogs for both me and my
partner and the rest of our gang, always delivered...with a smile?"
Gage said, dropping the clincher.

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Mac nodded yes, and promptly passed out into their arms.

DeSoto and Gage were ready for that and caught him. They lowered
him to the paper and french fry strewn pavement and they placed Mac
onto his back. Johnny left the oxygen mask on Mac's face and his other
hand deftly shut off the flow of gas to it. Moisture from condensation
began to steam solidly around the fainted man's nose and mouth.

Roy couldn't hold himself back anymore while he tipped back Mac's
head so he could breathe a little better with a patent airway. "Johnny,
that was pure evil and completely dirty handed."

"So.... A little humility's good for the soul. Especially a meesly money
grubbing hot dog stand owner's. We didn't do this to him. He brought it
on all by being so..." he broke off, searching for the right
words to explain what he meant....."so..prejudiced against guys like us
and what we do for our daily living.  A little hyperventilation faint has
never hurt anybody, and you know it. After all, anyone in one is about
as far away from incurring ischemic brain damage, as one can possibly
get." Then he nudged Roy's shoulder."Just look at what this one eensy weeny
little blackout will get us, Roy. Think about it!  Finally, firemen will have some
place to eat for free like every cop does everywhere else, just because
of the nature of the job he holds. Now, that.. is delivering sheer poetic
justice for once, wouldn't you agree?"

"At the expense of someone else's pain and suffering?" Roy challenged.
But he was starting to grin the precursors of 'I-like-it.' even while
he chided his second half firmly.

Johnny was unphased by the berating. "Sure, partner. This didn't hurt
Mac one iota. We're still doing our jobs like he asked us to do, Roy.
We're still helping him out by the fire department book. This other tactic,
it's....well, it a little free attitude adjustment if you will."

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"I don't think Mac's the one who actually needs it." Roy mumbled.

Johnny looked up from the pulse he was monitoring on Mac. "Huh?"

"Nothing. You better make sure that Mac here doesn't have something
truly wrong with him to cover our butts."

"WAYYy... ahead of you." said, Gage, flipping open the EKG monitor. He
stuck on the pads with a flourish and wired Mac in. He flipped on
the machine to audible and turned up the volume to the loudest
gain so that it would start to work on waking Mac up.

Roy appeased the last of his concern for Mac's well being by
studying the rhythm flowing across the screen.

It was entirely unadulterated NSR.

DeSoto grunted. "You got lucky. You weren't wrong this time."

"I'm never wrong."

"Uh huh..." Roy grinned. "Now that you've had your fun? What's next?"

"This..." Gage said, scooping up the paddles just as Mac groaned
and awoke as his blood's carbon dioxide levels normalized. He placed
them onto Mac's bare chest and held them there after he made sure
the machine was completely, uncharged.

Roy bit his lip, fighting to keep a straight face while Gage completed
a scheme worthy of the best Chet Kelly could ever possibly dream up.

He looked away and pretended to fiddle with the now turned off oxygen
supply so he wouldn't spoil it.

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"Mac! Mac!" Johnny shouted as he held the paddles down firmly onto
the man's chest. "Can you hear me now?!"

Mac opened his eyes blearily and startled when he saw what Johnny
was doing. "Ackhh!" he shouted, shoving them off his chest. "Get those
things off of me!  I'm fine now." He also pulled the non flowing oxygen
mask off of his face and started to struggle to his feet, peeling off
the EKG pads eagerly. His face was a mask of sheer embarrassment
but now, a little gratitude, mixed in.

"Are you sure?" Gage asked, throwing the paddles back into
their case. He genteely helped Mac return to sitting on the
picnic table bench.

Mac winced for each tacky sticker he yanked off his chest
that pulled out some chest hair.


"Ouch! Yes, G*d d*mn it!"

Roy's back started jiggling as he tried to keep his uncontrollable
giggles completely hidden. He decided to occupy himself
by putting away all the rescue gear.

Gage started to button the buttons up Mac's shirt again, one
by one."You're a very lucky man, Mac, that we decided to have
dinner with you. We almost didn't come here because
we wanted to shower off so bad."

"Oh, yeah?" grinned Mac sheepishly. He was a completely
different man now. "I wanna thank ya fellas. You saved my
life. Do you have an address where I can pay the bill?"

Johnny held up his hand in negation and he smiled craftily.
"What bill, Mac? We didn't transport you to the hospital
in the ambulance. No ride? No bill. That's how it works with
all of us paramedic types. "

Mac beamed up at Gage with tears in his eyes. "Gratitude
works, too. And I still remember my promise to you both..
I mean, about feeding ya lunches for a year."

Gage demurred. "Aw, Mac. You don't have to do that."

"Yes, I do. A deal's a deal. From a grateful businessman
to a fireman, even if he is a little muddy around the edges."

And then Mac stuck out his hand.

Roy stayed in the truck, containing near guffaws. Just barely.

"Ok, I can't argue with you. I promise we won't come everyday,
all right?" Johnny told him, taking the palm offered to him in a
returning grasp.

"Ok." said Mac, feeling like he had a whole new lease on life.
He got up and started to clean up his stand and surrounding
picnic tables, with new energy.

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Johnny got into the squad and closed the door behind himself
with complete and utter satisfaction. "There ends the war, of all wars.
I do believe Johnny Gage has declared a truce on that particular
hot dog stand."

Roy grinned as his tone belied the further beratement he
wanted to deliver. "I still think that little stunt was evil."

"You won't be saying that later on when the whole station's filling
up on those wonderful chili dogs every week." Johnny said, lacing
contended fingers behind his head.

Roy started up the ignition but then paused as he jerked the squad out
of park. "Does this mean that Mac now has to feed every shift? Or just

Johnny's satisfied smirk fell into one of instant dismay.

From: "Cory Anda" <>
Date: Fri Oct 28, 2005  5:52 pm
Subject: Feigning Grace..

The gang was bored.....again.

There had been no calls for six hours since the big mudslide.

And it was looking more and more likely that Roy was going
to have to go home for the weekend to spend it with his
wife and kids ....and with Sylvia, Roy's mother in law.

Gage was currently bragging about how they had pulled the
wool over Mac's eyes to the others, but only Chet Kelly
seemed to enjoy the tale thoroughly.

"Just feel lucky that Mac didn't press charges of malfeasance,
Johnny." Cap said sharply. "He could've you know. There's
a state law that says anyone who suffers unconsciousness has
to be evaluated by a physician if at all possible on a paramedic

"That's only If, Cap. If...they give you permission. Mac directly refused.
All right, ok.. not verbally mind you,.. but he sure pulled off those
patches and that oxygen mask fast enough." he chuckled.

Kelly gave him a high five in admiration for carrying off such a
gem stunt. Then he said. "I'm gonna go shower fellas."

"Again?" Cap groaned.

"Yeah, why not? I'm still spitting out sand here from between
my teeth.." Kelly exclaimed back. "Excuse me while I go freshen
up. Geesh.. What a grouch.."

"He's only hungry." Johnny explained to Chet's retreating back.
"I think Cap's kinda crazy for not going down to the dog stand for
a free weiner."

"I'm not going to go there to eat because it's not right, Gage. Not
after you pulled off that kind of thing."

Gage just grinned and spun a quarter into a spin on the table
some more, absently humming to himself while he downed milk
from a carton.

"I wouldn't celebrate so hard, Johnny. It's always easy to get
into trouble when you start to criticize and judge people while treating
them with less than the respect you normally would, just because
they're a little different than you. So don't begin to view them in
such a shallow light, Johnny. You'll only regret it in the long run."
Roy said gently.

"Says who? Chet seems none the worse for wear for his pranks.
Watch." and he held up two fingers to his mouth so he could deliver
a sharp piercing whistle. It was so loud, an echo of it returned to them
from out of the vehicle bay. "Hey Kelly! Get back in here. I wanna
talk to ya for a minute."

DeSoto just sighed and buried his nose into the stock pages.

Kelly jogged back into the kitchen and barely managed to hide
the tools that he had been using to wire up another water can in
one of the toilet stalls for Gage to find, into his back pocket.
"What now, Gage? I'm a little busy. I wanna get clean.."

"I'm through, Chet. No more wars. Concluding the one between
Mac and I, got me to wondering.... about whether or not the two of
us, should do the same.."

Chet immediately squinted and angled his head suspiciously.
"Roy, did he crack his head working on any of those slide victims
earlier today?"

"Nope." DeSoto replied, still reading. "He's injury free, Chet."
he yawned. "Today.." he glared back from over a newspage.

"And I'll stay that way. I promise, guys. And that includes not
getting any more bruises from unexpected flying water bombs.
Chet.." he shot back at Kelly. "So this, I vow. It's over. No rubber
chickens, no more short sheeting the bed. No dresses on CPR
manikins, or touchy mousetraps....nothing...ever.....again." Gage
told Chet mildly with conviction. ""

"Well, what about this Phantom thing of ours?" Chet asked, shifting
uncomfortably onto his other foot. "I mean, things were just getting

"Didn't you get soaked enough in all that rain earlier on?" Johnny
frowned at him.

"Well, yeah. That's different. One's water from a cloud, the other's
water from a c---"

Johnny halted the very words out of Chet's lips when he held up his
right hand in a native american benediction over the middle of his
forehead. "I swear on the grave of my forefathers to never play another
prank on Chet Kelly, ever again."

The genuine solemnity of his voice gave chills to the rest of the gang
and they all stopped whatever leisure activity they had been partaking
in at that particular moment.

Chet just slowly turned around and left the room, affording Johnny
a sidelong glance back at him every once in a while.

"It's a start.." Roy said without looking up from his reading.

A few seconds later, Kelly peeked back through the door to
look at Johnny suspiciously, who was still holding his prayer
summoning hand up in the way of his people with his eyes closed.
He spoke again. "You're staying one hundred percent dry from
now on, Chet, so you mark my words. Hear it again from me.
It's overrrrrrrr.."

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The face in the door disappeared.

Peace reigned once more over the warm kitchen....until....

##Station 51. Possible suicide attempt. 6101 Sharon Road.
6101 Sharon Road. Cross street Benedict. Time out 17:55##

The gang dropped everything and ran for the trucks.

The rain, had returned, with strength. It was so dark and the way
ahead so obscured, that Johnny had to remark on it. "I sure hope
you know where you're going, Roy, because I sure don't."

"I do. Sharon Road's a street one of my daughter's best friends
lives on. In fact, the house we're going to just may be a neighbor
friend of hers. We'll be there in four minutes."

"What do you think we got?"

"Someone who's very unhappy.." DeSoto said. "Suiciders
always seem to be that way when they start trying to kill themselves."

Image of johnnyworriedinsquadclose.jpg Image of roysquadsitnightcallclose.jpg


The following rescue call was based on the true life experience of EMT,
"Roger Stuart" <>

Thank you, Roger, for such a realistic, true case. You are truly an asset to
the EMS field. I can tell by the way you handled this boy.


Soon, the engine and squad pulled up at the house. Stanley
was relieved that the cops had preceded them, assuring scene

The gang entered the house on the invite of a crying mother.
"It's Michael.. Please, he's on the couch..." she sobbed. "He's
taken his grandmother's heart medication.."

Johnny motioned for Stoker to place the resuscitator by the
young teenager's head while he knelt beside him. "Michael,
Michael! Can you hear me?" he said, feeling for a wrist pulse
with his own arm draped also over the boy's stomach. "He's
breathing.." he told the others. "Normal so far."

Then Johnny moved to further test Michael's awareness level.
He rubbed a knuckle into his breastbone. The boy groaned
and purposefully shoved away Gage's hand, but his eyes
never opened.

"Huh..." Gage thought. ::That groan is a very good sign for
someone in such serious trouble..:: He bent to take a
blood pressure while Captain Stanley got an oxygen mask
set and flowing for him to grab later on, if necessary.

Michael's mother was sobbing to the police officer in the room
with them. "I can't understand why my son would ever do such a
thing. He's a good boy. Please...*sob* Is he going to survive this?"

"Ma'am, we're going to do everything in our power to make sure
he does that. Ok?" Johnny told her. "Why don't you sit down in this
chair over here. I promise we'll tell you absolutely everything
that we're doing for Michael as we're doing it. Marco, can you
come guide her over there?"

"Yep." and Lopez did.


Roy stood quietly by, while his partner worked, since the teenager's
status was nowhere near a crisis point yet. He took a closer
look at the lamp stand near the boy's head.

The first thing he noticed, was that the grandmother's
prescription bottle, laying on the table, was turned onto its side
in plain sight amid recently used kleenix tissues and a T.V. guide,
with the cap screwed on crooked.

::Well, that explains things.:: Roy thought to himself.

He glanced at the boy's closed eyelids and saw both eyeballs
moving randomly under the lids.

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::He's a very aware supposed unconscious. I'll just bet
this pill bottle arrangement is a purposeful sign of a staged
suicide attempt.::

DeSoto counted the pills and about eight were missing from the
number count on the bottle. The prescription had just been filled two
days before and the drug on the bottle was labelled "Furosemide",
better known as "Lasix".

Roy then knew with little doubt that Michael was faking it. :: I can't think
of a worse way of dying than p*ssing yourself to death on water pills!::

So, DeSoto leaned over the kid and palpated his lower abdomen. Sure
enough, his bladder was as tight as a drum. He knew that Johnny was buying
into the dramatic tension oozing from the mother, thinking the worst, and
that had caused him to go deep into paramedic mode. ::He's thinking more
about the ALS equipment than the findings.:: Roy thought. ::I think I better
set him straight before he does any unnecessary biophone calling.::

Within ear shot of his partner, Roy whispered to the kid.
"What you took are water pills. If I press right here any harder, you're
going to pee in your pants."

That caught Johnny's full attention.

Roy went on, still keeping his voice down as Gage opened
the teenager's eyes to check them with his penlight. "Michael, we
have to assume that you are critical and know that my partner and I
will do whatever it takes to save your life, unless you can tell us

Now Johnny realized that his patient needed to drain his bladder in
the worst way and Roy couldn't resist the temptation to make a
faker tell the truth, so he continued and said to Michael a few more
things. "That means we will have to stick needles in your veins, shove
tubes up your nose, down your throat, to pump your stomach with
charcoal. We will also have to shove a hose up your ..well, you know,
before your bladder ruptures." Then DeSoto mildly applied pressure
on his bladder and said. "We don't have to do all that if you can snap
out of it and tell us how many pills you took."

Michael opened his eyes a crack and started weeping. "Four.."
he said, and he held up four shaky fingers as well.

Roy smiled gently. "Since you took those pills, you need to
go to the hospital to get treated for at least dehydration and an
electrolyte imbalance."

Johnny, was now fully onto the situation, once he realized that
Roy had solved the mystery for him with just a scene check.
"So how about we load you into the ambulance and I'll give you
a urinal."

The kid abruptly nodded his head affirmatively.

It took every ounce of energy for Roy and Johnny to keep their
faces straight. Gage looked at Cap who asked. "Load and go?"

Roy nodded. "Yep, he's a Code 2 transport."

With that comment, the gang started putting away all the squad

Roy handed his notepad to the cop, winked at him, and asked.
"Can you take mom to the other room and get his information while
we load him up?"

When his mom left the room, Michael opened his eyes for the first time,
looked at the two paramedics and whispered, "Please hurry."

Gage and DeSoto loaded him up. And Roy volunteered to be the
one to ride in with the boy. He jumped in as Cap said, "You're writing
this report." and he closed the door from the outside.

Soon, Roy was alone with Michael.

Things quieted then in the driver's cab, as the ambulance began
to move.

Finally, DeSoto was able to say.. "Ok, the coast is clear." Michael
sprang to life, unable to drop his drawers fast enough under the
blanket to relieve himself.

As the Cadillac driver took off, he tapped the siren a few times for
no other reason than to give the Michael's mom one more step of a
truly adolescent, unfolding drama.

Once they turned the corner and had gone out of her sight, the driver
turned off the lights and Roy and the teenager were driven
casually the rest of the way to Rampart.

Along the way, Michael sighed, feeling much more relieved after
voiding more than a liter of fluid. The slightly built teenager
laid his head back down onto the pillow and said, "You're
awesome. I thought you were gonna bust me for being a fake."

Then, he started crying as he told Roy the story of his plight.

DeSoto shared with him. "Sometimes, while growing up, I thought
I had clueless parents, too. I know how life, as a teenager,
can actually be pretty miserable a lot of the time. And I know that
your parents probably remained ignorant of your feelings until
today, until you tried something like this."

Michael looked away from Roy with a resurgence of sadness.

Roy told him. "It's not so bad, Michael. You've probably succeeded at
re-connecting with your mom. But trying a suicide trick next time
will most likely turn into a real suicide because you won't ever know
what you're doing. I could very well be thumping on your chest right now."

Roy couldn't count how many times Michael apologized to him

DeSoto said. "Be sure to explain the things you told me just now
to the psychiatric people who are going to evaluate you at
the hospital."

"Why are those kinds of doctors gonna be there? I'm not sick."

"They won't be seeing you for that, Michael, they'll be there
because you need to be assessed for being suicidal." Roy

"They're going to think I'm nuts." he said.

"Yes, they will. Are you ready for that?"

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"I'm gonna have to be." said the boy, with tears glistening in
his eyes.

Later that night, Johnny and Roy returned to Rampart with a
new patient from another medical call. DeSoto told Johnny
that he wanted to stop by Michael's room.

Michael's mom was there and they were hashing out their

When Michael saw Roy, the first thing he said was, "They
hosed me." and he pointed to his urinary bag, obviously
angry about it.

Roy laughed good naturedly. "At least, some good looking nurse
did it here instead of one of us doing it on your living room couch
right in front of your mother."

Michael dropped his head, and sheepishly said. "Point made."

Dixie entered the treatment room with an intravenous tray and
the teenager promply offered her his arm. He certainly had
no complaints of having an IV after his first encounter with a Foley

The boy was admitted for two days to monitor his electrolytes and for
a psych evaluation.


The next morning, Roy got a phone call at the station from Michael.
##Hey, Mr. DeSoto. My parents want to invite you home sometime
so we can talk together over dinner.##

"I'm sorry, Michael. But I don't think that's a very good idea. You see,
here at the fire department, we're not allowed to get personally involved
with the patients we treat, but I appreciate the offer and I'm glad to
see that you and your mother are beginning to work out some of
those problems we discussed in the ambulance."

##You know something, Roy?## said Michael.

"What?" the paramedic smiled.

##I'm joining the paramedic program at the fire academy and it's
all because you directly inspired me to better myself.##

"Now that's a scary thought. I wish I had that same effect on both of
my kids."

##See you later?##

"No, but feel free to call here anytime, when you think you might be
having some of those old troubles plaguing you again and I'll promise
we'll talk more. Ok.?"

##I will. Thanks for saving my life, Mr. DeSoto. And please,
thank your partner, too, for not embarrassing me in front of
my mother when he realized I was actually awake.##

"Sure. Take care of yourself, Michael. Goodbye."

Roy hung up the phone and allowed a small smile to touch his lips.

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Johnny, who was still up with Roy for the late show, mulled over Michael's
case. "You know, that boy had me completely fooled with his true medical
status. I had no idea he created the whole incident for us to find himself."

Roy didn't rub it in.
"I've found a good many suicide attempts, with teenagers overdosing
on pills, are usually staged because they're having a personal crisis.
They, almost ninety nine percent of the time, have absolutely no intention
of killing themselves, Johnny." Roy told him. "They create this kind of scene
just because they are going through something emotional that they think
they can't handle any more, and this is the easiest way for them to cry
out for help while trying to resolve it.

"Don't beat yourself up for not seeing through his ruse, Johnny. I'm just a
little more experienced than you are about these kinds of kids, probably
because I see milder versions of tantrums in my own kids so often. I think
I spotted the gist of things so fast because all the classic signs for a
pill stunt were there for his call."

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  The Shallow Light
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